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The Haida are native North Americans that live in the northern parts of British Columbia in the Queen Charlotte Islands. In early times, the Haida resided throughout the entire chain of these islands. Most of the southern islands have a very rocky and towering landscape. The largest southern island is Moresby. The largest northern island, named Graham Island, has a landscape that ranges from mountains in the west to a smoother, yet rocky land in the east. Today most of the Haida live on this island. They also live in the southern part of Prince of Wales Island in Alaska.
Most of the Haida have left their island homes and moved to the mainland. There they are employed in the fishing, canning, and logging industries. In 1990 there were close to 2,000 Haida living in the United States and another 2,000 living in parts of Canada.
The Haida belong in one of two clans, the raven or eagle clan. The clan is determined maternally at birth. Marriage among the Haida has to consist of a person from each clan. The clans are then subdivided into local groups that occupied villages.
Potlatches are a ceremony held by the Haida. They have potlatches at events like house building, totem pole raising, or funerals.
Haida are known for their canoes. They are made from red cedar trunks. Canoe makers work on the canoes in the autumn when they could find the best red cedar trees. Once enough snow fell, the trees can be hauled from the forest to the village where they are finished. The Haida are also very artistic people. They create totem poles depicting historical family events and to show their family crest. The houses of the Haida are also decorated with their art.
The Haida built their villages along calm and sheltered beaches and inlets. They did this to protect themselves from the strong winter storms that occur along the pacific coast. In addition, they built their villages to support their food needs. Their diet consisted of fish and sea animals due to their close proximity to the ocean. They traditionally ate salmon, halibut, black cod, and shellfish. Salmon is the basic food of the people. They travel to streams and rivers every other year to fish for salmon. Black cod was the staple food for villages on the west coast. They traditionally fished for eulachon in the runs along the Nass River.
Indian Tribes of Alaska
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